CEO Departures in Q3 Fewest Since 2010, Says Challenger Gray

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The number of chief executive officers who left their jobs in the third quarter declined 15% to 299 from 320 from the same period of a year ago, and it was the lowest number for the quarter since 2010, according to outplacement consultancy and executive coaching firm Challenger Gray & Christmas.

The third-quarter total was affected by an increase in the number of CEOs leaving their posts in September, which rose 5% to 101 from the 96 recorded CEO changes in August. Even so, CEO departures in September were the fewest for that month since 2012.

So far this year, a total of 866 CEOs have announced exits, down 8.3% from the 944 CEOs who departed from their posts in the first three quarters of 2016.

“We see the most announced CEO exits during the third quarter on average, as companies make leadership decisions before the year’s end,” said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in a statement.

The government/nonprofit sector continues to lead exits this year, with 134 announced departures, a 13.5% decline from last year, when there were 155 departures. The services industry has seen 91 exits this year, a rise of 184% from 2016, when 32 departures were reported. Hospitals posted 81 exits through September, a drop of 27% from the 111 CEOs who left during the same period in 2016. Companies in the health care/products industry and the financial services sector each reported 77 CEO exits this year.

“In years past, we’ve seen the majority of CEOs retire or resign, the standard reason for leaving. This year has been unique in that more former CEOs are announcing that they will remain with the company in some capacity,” said Challenger.